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Ukraine8 June 2006

Arson attack on home of journalist who covers corruption

Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay today at an arson attack on the home of Sergei Yanovski of the national daily Kievskie Vedomosti and the regional weekly Nasha Ukraina on the night 5 June. Petrol was fed with a hose through a window into the kitchen of his apartment in the southern city of Kherson and was set ablaze while the front door was jammed shut. Yanovski, his wife and their child all escaped unhurt.

“We are very shocked by the methods used in this attack,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is clear the aim was to kill Yanovski and not just scare him, and the motive was very probably related to his work as a journalist We call on the interior ministry official responsible for the Kherson region to identify those who ordered this attack and bring them to justice, so that this kind of violence does not recur.”

Yanovski recently wrote articles criticising two influential local businessmen, Vladlen Girin and Dimitri Bolbot. After Girin announced he was a candidate to be mayor of Kherson, Yanovski wrote about his alleged involvement in construction material fraud . Bolbot is a former Kherson municipal councillor who tried to seize 120 hectares of land on the Black Sea coast with the aim of building private cottages and selling them illegally. He was forced to abandon this project after many protests and newspaper articles, some of them by Yanovski.

Yanovksi told Reporters Without Borders he had never been threatened in the past. He also said the police reacted quickly and seemed to be taking the case seriously.

The interior ministry official in charge of the Kherson region, Mikhailo Yasselski, has ordered an investigation. The judicial authorities have also registered the attack as a case of “premeditated property damage by means for fire” under article 194-2 of the criminal code.

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